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In Search of High-Power Optics

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2001
Improving materials, manufacturing and system designs greatly extends some limits on optical damage thresholds.

Dr. Joseph S. Hayden

Advances in high-power and high-energy laser systems have made available power densities in excess of 109 W/cm2. At such power levels, a number of damage mechanisms can lead to permanent changes in the optical quality of a material. These changes may occur at a surface or within bulk material, and they can render an optic unusable and/or alter the transmitted beam profile so as to place downstream components in an optical system at increased risk for damage.

The inherent physics of laser damage and the limitations in manufacturing capability determine how far we can push optical materials…

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